Elvis Presley | Cleveland, Ohio | October 20, 1955 | Elvis Changes Rock Forever
On the night of October 20, 1955, Elvis, Scotty and Bill performed on a bill that featured acts filmed earlier that day at the Brooklyn High School Auditorium by Cleveland DeeJay, Bill Randle. The other acts were said to include Pat Boone, Bill Haley and the Comets, The Four Lads and Priscilla Wright. Elvis, Scotty and Bill had also performed in Cleveland the previous evening at the Circle theater with Roy Acuff and Kitty Wells.
Elvis Presley signing autographs backstage at St. Michael's Hall in Broadview Heights, October 20, 1955. : Photo by Tommy Edwards.
1:30 pm | The Pied Piper of Cleveland | A Day in the Life of a Famous Disc Jockey
This is a show put together by Cleveland DJ Bill Randle who in his October column in the 'Cleveland Press', describes the film to be made from it, a Universal Picture in with Randle will be 'supported by Pat Boone, The Four Lads, Bill Haley and his Comets, and the phenomenal Elvis Presley. Called 'Top Jock' [or 'A Day In The Life of a Famous Disc Jockey'], the film will run about 15 minutes when it hits your movie house'.
It never did, and never has - though the show by all accounts sounds fabulous.
Whether it was the Colonel or union problems that blocked its release, in subsequent years years the footage has never been located, though some stills survive. This was the first film Elvis Presley ever appeared in, and is the 'movie short' referred to by Bill Randle when he introduced Elvis Presley on his first national TV appearance on Stage Show in early 1956. It was Bill Haley's second film appearance after his group appeared in the 1954 short film, 'Round Up of Rhythm'. A plaque commemorating one of the filmed performances is located at Brooklyn High School in the Cleveland area, and was installed by the 'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame'.
The original forty-eight minute film was supposed to be cut down to a twenty minute 'short' for national distribution, but never made it that far. As of 2005, 50 years after its was produced, the movie remains unreleased. There is some dispute over whether or not this film actually exists, although it was shown publicly, albeit only once in Cleveland, and excerpts were also aired on a Cleveland television station in 1956.
According to music historian Jim Dawson, Randle, before his death, sold the rights to the film to PolyGram, although it has been reported that Universal Studios has the negatives of the film in its vaults.
As mentioned above the possibility that Colonel Parker blocked it, this is entirely possible. In 1955 Elvis was still an 'unknown' but moving into 1956 Colonel Parker would not have wanted Elvis being shown on the same 'bill' as 'lesser' artists and this is evidenced by his other moves, getting Elvis out of his Hayride contract etc.
Consider this : Bill Haley was at his absolute peak with Rock Around the Clock having gone to number one in the charts in June. Haley was sharing the billing with Hank Snow on a tour of the mid-west.
On this day, there at the bottom of the posters was a little-known act - Elvis Presley with Scotty & Bill.
According to Christopher Kennedy, author of '1950s Radio in Color: The Lost Photographs of Deejay Tommy Edwards', rock 'n' roll even clobbered rock 'n' roll, as Bill Haley found out when Elvis Presley topped the charts just three months later, shortly after the January, 1956, release of Heartbreak Hotel, his first single for RCA Victor. 'Haley didn't know what hit him'. 'For a while there, Bill Haley could do no wrong. And then the whole image of rock 'n' roll changed and he couldn't compete, which is why I love that photograph of him and Elvis together. At that very moment, the end of 1955, Haley still was on top.
And then literally within a few months, the whole ballgame changed'.
Bill Randle : 'We went to St. Michael's Hall at E. 100th and Union and shot a concert for 1,000 there that night. It was something like an Agora show'. Peter Guralnick wrote that unlike the scene at the high school, where the kids were restrained by the looming presence of their teachers (the athletic director, Mr. joy, held the doors to keep the students away from Pat Boone), here the girls screamed without restraint and fought to get to Elvis and Boone as they performed. When Presley broke the strings on his guitar, Randle said, and then smashed the guitar on the floor, 'it was mass hysteria. We needed police to get him out of the hall, clothes torn, a sleeve ripped from his jacket. Pat Boone also got the same response'.
Elvis Presley backstage at St. Michael's Hall - October 20, 1955.
Elvis Presley on stage at St. Michael's Hall - October 20, 1955.
Elvis Presley and Bill Haley
Bill Haley and Elvis first met in October 1955.
Haley was at his absolute peak with Rock Around the Clock having gone to number one in the charts in June. Haley was sharing the billing with Hank Snow on a tour of the mid-west. There at the bottom of the posters was a little-known act - Elvis Presley with Scotty & Bill. According to Bill, he and Elvis became very close for the two weeks of the tour, sharing Bill's car for travelling between shows, discussing music, and guitars, and Elvis' hopes for the future, which Bill remember consisted chiefly of wanting to by his mum a Cadillac.
Bill Haley and Elvis Presley : October 20, 1955 : Photo by Tommy Edwards.
Elvis Changes Rock Forever
According to Christopher Kennedy, author of '1950s Radio in Color: The Lost Photographs of Deejay Tommy Edwards', rock 'n' roll even clobbered rock 'n' roll, as Bill Haley found out when Elvis Presley topped the charts shortly after the January, 1956, release of Heartbreak Hotel, his first single for RCA Victor. 'Haley didn't know what hit him'. 'For a while there, Bill Haley could do no wrong. And then the whole image of rock 'n' roll changed and he couldn't compete, which is why I love that photograph of him and Elvis together.
At that very moment, the end of 1955, Haley still was on top.
And then literally within a few months, the whole ballgame changed'.
Elvis Presley : October 20, 1955. Photo from Elvis Concerts by JAT Publications.
Note the conscious emulation of Bill Haley right down to a red jacket and hairstyle similar to Haley's.
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